What should you do about burning pain after Achilles tendon surgery?

If you’ve severely torn your Achilles tendon, your doctor may have recommended surgery to repair it. Recovery after Achilles tendon surgery can take several months as you progress from immobilization to rehabilitation exercises. Depending on the intensity and length of your surgery, you may notice swelling around the area of your incision and experience a burning pain when trying to move your ankle. 

If you’re experiencing a burning pain in your Achilles tendon after surgery, it may be due to issues like inflammation and scar tissue formation. Understanding the underlying causes of your burning pain can help you find an effective treatment plan — such as physical therapy — that ensures that your recovery is as smooth as possible.

Why are you feeling burning pain after Achilles tendon surgery?

After you’ve had Achilles tendon surgery, feeling burning pain in your ankle can be alarming. However, there are several possible causes for this burning pain, and many of them are considered normal for your healing process. You may be feeling burning pain because of:

  • Inflammation — Inflammation like swelling and bruising is a normal part of the healing process, but it can be uncomfortable. If your surgery was recent, you are more likely to notice discoloration and swelling around the area of your incision, which can irritate surrounding tissue and create a burning sensation. In addition, if your surgeon used hardware during the surgery and it rubs against your soft tissue, you may feel a burning sensation. 
  • Nerve injuryNerve injury can be a common risk of Achilles tendon surgery, and it can cause you to feel a burning sensation along your surgical area. Nerve damage can occur due to inflammation of the surrounding soft tissue, which can compress major nerves in your ankle. 
  • Scar tissue — Scar tissue can cause a burning sensation in the foot after surgery because it can put pressure on the nerves in the area. As the surgical site heals, scar tissue can form, and it can be more sensitive and painful than surrounding tissue. Scar tissue can also restrict the movement of your surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments, leading to pain and discomfort. In some cases, scar tissue can form adhesions, which are abnormal connections between tissue and organs, that can cause a burning sensation and pain.
  • Overuse — If you resume activity too soon after surgery, you could instantly irritate your tissue and feel a sharp pain and a lasting burning sensation. It’s important that you follow postoperative instructions provided by your surgeon to reduce your chance of injuring your healing Achilles tendon.
  • Infection — An infection can cause redness, warmth, and pain, along with other symptoms such as fever, chills, and increased pain when the area is touched. An infection can occur at the surgical site or in the surrounding tissue, and it can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. You may feel burning pain in your Achilles tendon as a result of a post-surgery infection; it’s important to report any concerns of an infection to your doctor right away.

What can you do about your burning pain after Achilles tendon surgery?

To alleviate burning pain after Achilles tendon surgery, you can try several noninvasive remedies, including the following:

  • Cold and hot therapy — Applying cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and swelling at your surgical site, which can help reduce pain and your burning sensation. Cold therapy works to numb the area and slow blood flow to your surgical site. According to your doctor’s instructions and as your Achilles tendon heals, you can switch cold therapy with hot therapy to increase blood flow to the tissue and boost healing. 
  • Compression — If you believe your swelling is contributing to the burning sensation in your Achilles tendon, you can try using compression socks. Wearing a compression bandage or stocking can help reduce your swelling and pain. 
  • Elevation — By keeping your ankle elevated above your heart, you can prevent fluid from accumulating in your ankle and reduce the burning pain in your Achilles tendon. In addition, resting your ankle as much as possible can allow for proper healing.
  • Physical therapy Post-surgical rehabilitation can help improve muscle strength, flexibility, and range of motion of the tissue surrounding your Achilles tendon, which can help reduce your burning pain. Physical therapy exercises and stretches have many benefits, including improving blood flow, reducing the formation of scar tissue, increasing mobility, and improving nerve function. 

Excel PT can help you address the burning in your foot after Achilles tendon surgery

If you’re dealing with burning pain after Achilles tendon surgery, physical therapy can help you pinpoint its root cause and treat it accordingly. Our team of experts at Excel Sports & Physical Therapy can introduce you to a treatment and exercise plan that boosts your post-surgery healing. 

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.